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Your Board Members Can Become “Door Openers.” Here's How!

What would you MOST love your board members to do? Many nonprofit…

How to Enlist Your Dream Team Board

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Wouldn't you love to enlist the right team of people who can…

Why Board Members Love Advice Visits

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Why do board members love Advice Visits?

Because they find them to be a relief.

If you send your board members out into the community connecting with important people and asking for advice, they'll usually be very happy.

It's because they don't have to do a long, detailed presentation. And they are not comfortable doing that. They don't feel that they know enough.

They ARE comfortable with the idea of seeking advice and input.

After all, they are the community representatives on the board.

It is totally appropriate for your board members to be asking other community leaders for their best thinking on how to achieve the organization’s goals.

They do not have to present a detailed case for support in order to be effective personal advocates for the cause.

Help Your Board Members Become “Door Openers”

What would you MOST love your board members to do? Many nonprofit…

A Board's Legal Responsibilities - Do They Know Them?

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Is your board taking enough responsibility for your organization's…

10 Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards

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There's so much confusion about the appropriate job of a nonprofit board member.

Lots of boards ask me to help them understand what their work really is. I often refer to a list that BoardSource created a few years ago that has become a reference in our sector.

Here's the list. I'll be discussing these responsibilities in my upcoming blog posts. There's lots to talk about here! What do they really mean? How do you implement them?

Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards From BoardSource

  1. Determine the organization's mission and purpose. It is the board's responsibility to create and review a statement of mission and purpose that articulates the organization's goals, means, and primary constituents served.
  2. Select the chief executive. Boards must reach consensus on the chief executive's responsibilities and undertake a careful search to find the most qualified individual for the position.
  3. Provide proper financial oversight. The board must assist in developing the annual budget and ensuring that proper financial controls are in place.

How to Create a Hard-Hitting Hands-On Planning Session With Your Board

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Ah, death by strategic planning!Don't get me started on how AWFUL and what a TIME WASTER strategic planning can be. At least the way we do it in the noprofit sector.I am organizing a "hard-hitting, hands-on planning session" with an organization that has been wandering aimlessly for a few years. They wonder why they can't raise money? Here's the answer - their vision is not juicy enough to get excited about.Here's our agenda for our planning session: (I've changed the names to protect the innocent!)
  • Reconfirm Good Cause's vision and mission.
  • Reach consensus on what Good Cause wants to do in order to implement its vision and mission in the coming year and in the next 5 years. (broad framework here for the longer time period.)
  • Identify strategic directions and set some firm goals around each direction.
  • Answer the question: "how will we know if we have been successful?"
  • Determine the critical success factors that will make or break the new goals.
  • Agree on the board's role in creating success for Good Cause and what each person is committed to doing.
  • Set next steps so that the staff can flesh out a complete operational plan for the coming year.
I had to tell the staff - you can TRUST me that it will not be a WASTE of time. I told her that I will not facilitate a meeting that I wouldn't attend myself. : )

A FIrst Class Strategic Planning Process

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As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I am the chair of a board governance committee charged with creating a strategic plan this year. (lucky me!).And I am determined to create a compelling, engaging, even exciting planning/visioning process that everyone will actually enjoy!Here's the process that I've sketched out this year:September: 1. Board Self Assessment Survey 2. Set strategic planning timetable and processOctober: 1. Form Task Force 2. Identify our organization's stakeholders 3. Determine if and how we want to get feedback and input from the stakeholders 4. Create a plan/process for receiving their feedbackNovember board meeting: 1. Discussion of board self assessment survey data and determine any action items that need to be taken 2. Vision discussion with full board - what is our vision for our organization. How much money would it take to achieve our vision? (this is a "high impact - big picture" discussion that can draw additional people and resources to a big vision, as opposed to starting with "what can we accomplish within our resource constraints?")DecemberJanuary and Feb: Focus groups of key players/stakeholders discussing what is our vision and how much money would it takeMarch: WHERE ARE WE? 1. Complete environmental scan at a board meeting. 2. Provide input from the stakeholder focus groups that were conducted in Jan and Feb. 3. Conduct SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis.April - May - June: WHERE DO WE WANT TO GO? 1. Based on all info and data gathered to date, create several scenarios of LL's future. 2. Assess each scenario re its pros and cons 3. Determine the right path for LL's future and set goals.July - August - September HOW DO WE GET THERE? 1. Staff and committees create plans for accomplishing the goals. Plans will include objectives, tactics/strategies and who's responsibleWhat do you think? Want to comment?

Board Chairs: Fire-Up Your Board with a Call to Action!

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It's wonderful to see a board chair assume rightful leadership and challenge her board members to action. Here's a brilliant example of excellent leadership from a nonprofit board chair.Call to Action!I'm on the board of our local AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) chapter here in North Carolina's Research Triangle. (If you don't know about AFP, you need to join!Our wonderful board chair, Eli Jordfald, took on a personal priority this year - to reinvent our annual "National Philanthropy Day" celebration in November. If this "reinvention" was going to happen, Eli needed every single one of us board members to commit to a part in making this successful. With only a part-time staff person, we rely on our board volunteers to make it happen. So if we didn't pull through, then we wouldn't even have an event. Eli send out an email last week with the subject line: "Call to Action." Take a look at this professional and very specific note to her board members. She was not necessarily "asking for help." Instead it was "rallying the troops." How long has it been since you issued a Call to Action to your board, your staff or your volunteers? These words alone get immediate attention.

Top Tip to Maintain your Nonprofit Board's Momentum and Motivation

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A question I am frequently asked is, "Once I get my board fired-up, then how on earth do I keep my board members motivated and enthusiastic? Whenever the board members gather together, we get excited and energized about our work. But my board members frequently get distracted with other priorities. What to do?"The first thing you must do is take responsibility for keeping your board energized. If you are the nonprofit CEO, do everything you can to keep them going. AND if you are the chair of the board, also, do everything YOU can to fan the flames of your board members' energy.The most important thing is to take responsibility and don't expect that someone else will assume this role. Do you know the saying, "If it's to be, it's up to me?" Well, here's the perfect place to implement that idea.If your board is gonna stay excited, motivated and energized, it won't happen without YOU taking the lead.You can't expect your busy board members to keep focused and energized on their own. If you leave it up to them, you just may be disappointed. This is "Volunteer Management 101" - and the number one job of managing volunteers is motivating them.Here is a real life best practice example from a board I am currently serving on. This is from the CEO of Lillian's List, a political action group on whose board I serve. Our CEO, Carol Teal, is just about the best nonprofit CEO I've ever had the pleasure of working with.

The Number One Way to Get Your Board Members to Follow Through

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iStock_000006450448XSmallSo many nonprofit board members are enthusiastic and well-meaning but too often they back out of their commitments. Bet you have run into this problem!And I have been on the other side too, as a board member. In the heat of an exciting discussion, I suddenly found myself making personal commitments. Then later, in my office, I thought better of those ideas and was not so very enthusiastic about them.In nonprofit organizations, it's hard working with volunteers, who actually don't HAVE to do anything anyway. You simply can't MAKE volunteers work. That's why I always say that we are in the motivation business.You have to be able to motivate and charge up your board members and volunteers if you want them to be productive. It's a rare nonprofit volunteer who can keep herself fully pumped up with excitement and enthusaism all the time!Here's my secret weapon in motivating my volunteer committees. And it's an old standby of teamwork and leadership theory: PEER PRESSURE.Here's the most important thing to know about board members: they never, repeat, never want to look bad in front of their peers.

Powerful morale-boosting exercise for your board

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Morale is often an issue with board members who are treated to too many boring meetings. If I had to sit through meaningless meetings, I'd lose my morale too!I have developed a sure fire exercise that wakes everybody up, gets them talking, smiling and enjoying themselves, gives them their own chance to speak, fans the flames of their energy and passion, and reconnects them with the reason they are taking the time out of their busy lives to serve on the board.Tall order? Try this!

Ways to Liven Up Your Board Meetings - and Your Board

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Focus the agenda on results. Decide what is needed most out of…